Mary Tutwiler

L'enfant terrible shares scent sense Thursday

by Mary Tutwiler

The nose knows. While we have nine thousand taste buds in our mouths, we have billions of smell receptors in our noses. It’s a pity that the human animal has marginalized the sense of smell over more obvious senses like sight and hearing. But there are those among us who have keenly developed their sniffers. Tonight, at the Petroleum Club, the Alliance Francaise will present one of the great “noses” of the world, Christophe Laudamiel.

Christophe Laudamiel is a French creator of perfumes working in New York for the organization International Flavors and Fragrances.  His childhood was spent learning the names of exotic fruits, spices, and other plants and flowers. Laudamiel has organized programs with the International Flavors and Fragrances Foundation to increase awareness about scents in primary schools, and his technique has been effective in helping with visual memorization of vocabulary.

Dubbed the "enfant terrible" of the perfume industry, he has created scents for some of the great perfume houses in the world: Clinique, Harvey Nichols, Orlan, Slatkin & Co, Thierry Mugler, and Ralph Lauren. But perhaps his most ambitious work was to create 15 scents based on the novel Perfume, by Patrick Suskind, in conjunction with the movie release in 2006.

Tonight, Laudamiel will talk about the art and science of perfume and the mystery of how scent transports us into the center of our soul's universe. Scent making is organic chemistry at its highest level, gleaning the molecular structure of a scent and then figuring out how our noses read it. From there, perfume making is like composing music. Think building with the components of sweet flowery scents, dry woody ones, exotic spices, and animal musks. A rose is not always a rose when it comes to perfume. For those with deep curiosity about perfume, a fascinating read on the art and science of smell is The Secret of Scent by Luca Turin.

Laudamiel’s presentation begins at 6 p.m. Admission is $8 for members of Alliance Francaise; $10 for all others. Perfumes will be on sale after the talk. For more information call 261-1002.